Project aims to end '˜period poverty' for school girls in Portsmouth area

A CAMPAIGN is trying to make sure that no girls ever miss school just because they are due their period.

Friday, 17th August 2018, 11:08 am
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:08 pm
Rebecca Cave, left, who is the Portsmouth North co-ordinator for the Red Box sanitary products project for female students collects donations from Tesco at North Harbour assisted by customer assistant, Julie Knight Picture: Ian Hargreaves (180815-1_red_box)

The Red Box Project, founded by three friends in Portsmouth last year, asks shoppers to donate sanitary products which are then given to schools in the area for pupils to use.

Rebecca Cave is the lead co-ordinator for Portsmouth north and her passion has seen Tesco North Harbour and Fratton, Sainsbury's Farlington, Morrisons Anchorage Park and Co-op Port Solent sign up to the scheme.

In the stores, people can buy and donate sanitary products, knickers, black tights and feminine wipes for girls who either cannot afford them or have emergency need of them while at school.

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The Red Box Project is the brainchild of Anna Miles, Jo Willoughby and Liesl Rose.

They started it after figures showed one in 10 school girls in the UK have been unable to afford sanitary products and 12 per cent have had to improvise using socks or newspapers. This means they could be missing out on their education.

Stores in Fareham, Havant and Hayling Island have also got involved along with dozens of other areas in the UK.

Rebecca said: '˜This is a real issue and it is awful to think that here in the UK girls cannot get access to these products and are missing school as a result.

'˜The project asks for people to buy and donate the products which I then collect and hand over to schools. Most of the secondary schools in Portsmouth are now signed up so my aim is for junior schools to get involved.

'˜The schools have posters in the bathrooms directing girls where they get the items they need, normally in the medical room.

'˜Our aim to make sure no school girl has to pay for these products.

'˜I have been so pleased with the response from both the supermarkets and their customers. It has been incredible to see people getting involved and really wanting to help these young girls.'

Rebecca, 46, said girls might not have access to sanitary products due to money issues or not having a female figure around.

'˜Some girls know they are living in poverty and understand that for their parents it could be a choice between buying food or buying sanitary products,' she added.

'˜Or it could be they only live with their dad and feel uncomfortable discussing it. Periods should not be a taboo subject and girls should not feel embarrassed by this natural process.'

When speaking to teachers, Rebecca said they often admitted to buying products for their pupils who they knew could not afford them.

The Red Box Project is holding an information morning at Tesco North Harbour this Saturday for people to learn more.

Any schools interested in signing up should email Rebecca at [email protected]